Once again, we have Asia to thank for a prized textile. Cashmere is named for the Kashmir goats that inhabit the Himalayas and the mountainous regions of Central Asia that surround the Gobi desert. The harsh, extreme climate of the high desert plateaus are just right for producing the downy undercoat needed to make cashmere yarn. Cashmere was known to the Western world in ancient Roman times and it was the fabric of choice for Tibet’s royal family for centuries. Today, about 60% of the world’s cashmere, or approximately 3,000 tons, comes from Tibet and China.
The coat of a Kashmir goat consists of a coarse outer coat, sometimes referred to as guard hair, and the fine downy undercoat, which is used to make cashmere yarn. The goats grow this ultra-soft, insulating inner layer for protection from the wild drops in temperature at night in the mountains and plateaus. This superior fibre is collected annually, during the spring molting season, when the animals naturally shed their winter wool. It is traditionally removed with a comb and separated by hand. Each goat produces a mere four to six ounces of downy fibre a year.
As a knit, cashmere is lightweight and exceptionally warm. The yarn has a soft, silky finish and can be easily dyed. Like silk, cashmere’s exotic origins and sublime softness are timelessly appealing. Orvis is proud to bring you these handsome women’s cashmere sweaters. They are a great value, combining the ultimate in luxury with winter warmth and practicality – a wonderful gift for your friends, family, or yourself.